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HFP in Doha: Our review of Qatar Airways Qsuite business class (Part 1)

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This is my review of Qatar Airways Qsuite business class, on the A350-900.

The introductory article in this series, which reviewed the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Terminal 4, is here.

Later articles will look at the Al Maha VIP arrivals and departures service in Doha and the Al Mourjan business class lounge in Doha.

As a reminder, Qatar Airways gave me a return Business Class flight from London Heathrow to Doha.  Head for Points paid for all of its other expenses, including hotel, transfers and meals.

Background

Qsuite has won many awards for the best business class airline seat in the world since it was launched in 2017.  It was the first with a fully closing door.

For many HFP readers, it is an irresistable combination.  You get some amazing business class prices if you are willing to start your flights in Europe (£1000-ish to Asia is not uncommon), you earn DOUBLE the BA tier points you would get flying on BA on Asia routes (560 tier points for a return trip, due to the plane change in Doha) and you earn Avios.  But is it really any good?

(Obviously it is.  Yesterday, Qatar Airways won Best Airline, Best Long-Haul Airline, Best Business Class and Best Middle Eastern Airline in the 2019 Business Traveller Awards.  But let’s look at why.)

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

This review is structured slightly differently than usual, because I took a day flight both ways.  This means that I got to have two full meal services.  I have decided to dedicate Part 3 – which will run later this week – entirely to food and drink and to focus on the seat here.

On what aircraft can I find Qsuite?

You need to remember that Qsuite is not on all Qatar Airways flights.  The A380 and Boeing 787 fleet have a (still very good) herringbone layout which we reviewed here.  The Boeing 777 fleet is being refurbished with Qsuite but, if you don’t get it, you have the oldest 2x2x2 seating which is not great for solo travellers – see our review here.  The A350-1000 fleet definitely has Qsuite.  The A350-900 fleet, which I flew, is a mix of Qsuite and the herringbone seat depending on aircraft.  The A330 fleet has older 2x2x2 seating.

This blog post from Travelling For Miles is, AFAIK, the definitive guide to which cities currently have Qsuite.

What is so good about Qsuite?

With more and more airlines now introducing business class seats ‘with a door’ – of which obviously the new British Airways Club Suite, reviewed here, is a prime example – it is becoming difficult to remember what a revelation this was when it was unveiled in 2017.

Qatar Airways had decided to rip out a product which was already one of the best in the market and replace it with something even better.  (You need to remember that the BA Club Suite is, at the end of the day, the old abandoned Qatar Airways seat with a door added.  It is not Qsuite.)

As well as the door, what is genuinely radical is the way that the internal partitions can be opened up to create private spaces.  A family of four, for example, can have their own little area:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

If you are a couple, you can keep the partition by the screens closed but have the divider between your seats down.  You can either have a pseudo-double bed (via the seats on the right above) or ones where you are further apart from each other (the seats to the left).  It is very flexible.  You end up like this:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

For solo travellers, you will want the solo seats by the windows as pictured in the first image above.  It is a BA-style ‘forwards and backwards’ layout.  Seats are NOT herringbone, so you are facing directly forwards or backwards with your feet disappearing into a cubby hole under the IFE screen.

In order to keep seats open for couples or groups of four, you will find the central seats are not bookable by solo travellers until nearer departure.  This is one aircraft where a solo traveller is actually encouraged to take a solo window seat!

Obviously the pictures above are all PR images, because it is the only way to properly show the layout.  From now on I will run my own images.

Inside the cabin

I was on the 8am flight to Doha, which lands at 4.45pm (this becomes 5.45pm when the clock moves).  It is usually a Boeing 777 service with Qsuite but on the day I flew had been switched close to departure to a new A350-900.

This flight is very convenient in terms of getting to your hotel at a sensible time, but has the downside of being a breakfast flight with no ‘main’ meal service.  We will cover that in a later article looking at the food and drink.  Regular readers may remember that I had a similar issue with Oman Air First Class earlier in the year where I missed out on a ‘proper’ meal.  Luckily I flew back on a lunchtime service so I could experience the full dining offer.

Here are some shots from the cabin.  This photo shows a middle pair with the divider fully raised:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

and here is a pair with the divider down:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

If you were travelling solo and can only choose from a middle seat, I would recommend the pairs facing forwards which, as the family PR image above shows, puts your head further from your neighbour.

This picture gives a good impression of the size of the door, which is higher than you may imagine:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

This was my seat on the outbound, 7K:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

Forward facing seats come with a shoulder seat belt, as does the British Airways Club Suite.  I had a rear-facing seat on both flights and so did not have a shoulder belt.

It comes with a Brics amenity kit (more on this later), a burgundy blanket and a small pillow.  I had a debate with a friend later about whether these were something you were meant to take home – it never crossed my mind to take mine, and I’m not sure what use I would have for it, but apparently they are covetable!

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

Let me add something here which may seem a little random, but is a sign of how Qatar Airways approaches things.  You see the white surface above where the amenity kit sits?  It has a non-slip coating.  You can put a glass on there without worrying about it sliding down onto your lap at the first sign of turbulence.  It’s clearly not a massive deal, but just one of the many little things that add up a good big thing …..

Here is the cubby hole for your feet.  I found this a good size, and surprisingly high.  The tray slides out from above ….

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

…. which itself sits underneath the HD IFE screen:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

If you look to your neighbour across the aisle, this is what you see:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

Next to the seat is an ottoman with a leather top.  This has two positions, either lowered (level with the seat) or high (so it creates an arm rest).  This is the ‘high’ position:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

Flip open the lid and you find headphones, a bottle of water, magazines and plenty of space for a laptop and a pile of newspapers:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

Here is a shot from the return flight which shows how the ottoman is placed next to the seat:

Qatar Airways Qsuite business class review A350

This is the end of Part 1 of my Qatar Airways Qsuite review.  Part 2 can be found here.

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HFP in Doha: Our review of Qatar Airways Qsuite business class (Part 2)
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Comments

  1. We have 4 Qatar flights coming up, 3 in QSuites. As a couple should we choose Forward facing seating or Rear facing seats? Which are best for couples?

    Thanks M&m

  2. guesswho2000 says:

    I guess it’s safer ex-LHR, but QR seem to have a nasty habit of equipment swaps where you suddenly discover you’re not in the QSuite you’ve been led to believe you were (777-200, 2-2-2 layout), even on routes they actively advertise as QSuite (thinking QR816/817), so I’m wary of this until they complete their retrofits.

    I know equipment type isn’t guaranteed, and they advertise J as J, but I’d argue that when they’re actively promoting a specific layout it’s a bit cheeky, and the 2-2-2 product is a pretty significant downgrade. Such is life.

    A swap out to a 787, on the other hand, is no bad thing, that is actually one of the best reverse herringbone layout J cabins I’ve flown.

    • Yep, Qatar is notorious for equipment swaps. It’s bizarre. Not sure why they swap more readily vs other airlines, but they do and it frustrates almost everyone!

      • Bloody BA did this to me TWICE! I booked flights specifically for B787 and they replaced the aircraft last minute. No consolation compo obvs

  3. I think you get more space facing rearwards with the divider down. The crew on request will provide a cover for the divider recess which makes for a comfortable open space.

    “A family of four, for example, can have their own little area:”

    Also works a family (or group) of 3 – the two screens that separate the rear and forward facing seats can be opened/closed individually.

    • Adam Brown says:

      Thanks this was exactly my question. We are a family of Three so really useful to know that we can set up so that our daughter is separate but still connected to us.

      Guess I know where my next redemption is going.

  4. The white pillows are take away items.

  5. Golsquare says:

    We got it open for 3 of us with the other suite closed and on the way back as it was not busy they opened up all 4 seats for us so mum and baby got the partner seats and myself and little man had our own seats in the quad. Was impressed by the service, the CSD was especially good with the kids. They asked us to take the white pillows which are now in the baby cot 🙂

  6. Jonathan G says:

    My wife and I flew Qsuite earlier this year (A350-900, Heathrow to Doha). We had rear facing middle seats. The Qsuite itself was a fantastic experience, BUT we both suffered with the lack of “air” in the enclosed suite. By this I mean that there are no air vents above the middle suites and after a few hours the suite felt uncomfortably stuffy. I’ve travelled on hundreds of flights and never ever had issue with a blocked nose. My wife suffered much more than me and hated the whole Qsuite experience. As a comparison, the second leg of our journey (Doha to Krabi) was on a 787 Dreamliner and the difference in the air quality was really noticeable. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has experienced this. The window seats do have air vents so may not have this issue. Or maybe it was just an issue with this particular flight. We had great expectations of the Qsuite, but for us personally we were left very disappointed, to the extent that we would actively try NOT to get Qsuites on a Qatar flight.

    • Funny you should mention that. We came off a QSuite to Singapore last week and my husband and I had very blocked noses. I normally get it anyway, so not a problem but was surprised for my husband. Air quality, pressure or mere coincidence? Hard to say.

      • Jonathan G says:

        When you think about it, the air circulation systems for planes were never designed to cope with semi-enclosed pods. Certainly not the older 777’s. Even the latest generation of planes such as the A350’s were actually designed years ago before they started production, well before the current trend for business class suites with doors. As such it’s no surprise that these new suites would obstruct the planned airflow and air dynamics within these planes. Which is further compounded on Qatar by a lack of air vents in the central qsuites.
        Yes the new qsuites are fantastic from an aesthetic and privacy point of view, but if that comes at the cost of feeling crappy during and after the flight then I’m not sure if the trade-off is worth it.
        Personally I much prefer the older business class layout in the 787 Dreamliners. Never had any issues with air quality, and never ever suffered with a blocked nose on long haul flights on a Dreamliner.

  7. Kevin Skinner says:

    I asked about the blanket, being take away, I explained I had a long overnight transit and would like to take it with me. I was told the blankets weren’t to be taken away! Which, frankly, seems fair.

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